freewill vs. Sovereignty of God

So then—How Does God Save to the Uttermost?

In the last article we covered how God saves.  So now let’s cover how God saves to the “uttermost.”  Hebrews 7:25 says, “He is able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.”  And “uttermost” means absolute, total and to the most extreme imaginable degree.  Wow!!

So how does God save to the absolute, total and most extreme imaginable degree?  According to Hebrews 7:25, it’s by Jesus ever living to intercede, by pleading the merits of His blood in the presence of God against satan, on behalf of His people.  So, as long as His blood has merit and as long as He “ever liveth,” His people have salvation.  In other words, it can never lose its merit, for “He is able!” His precious blood can never lose its merit based on any inability in Jesus or because of any of His people’s weaknesses.  In fact, He “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3:20).

Jesus said, “I give them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them from My Fathers hand” (Jn.10:28-29).  So how could anyone ever believe salvation can be lost, when it’s based on Jesus’ merits not ours…..Unless of course ones “faith” is in themselves and what they do, instead of in Jesus and what He’s done? 

“Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Gal.3:3)? If we could possibly reach sinless perfection here, then we wouldn’t need to be saved by an act still being performed by the living Savior—His intercession!  Paul knew this and confessed that although he had a will to do good, he couldn’t due to the weakness of the flesh.  So he made it clear that it’s only because of Jesus continually pleading His blood that believers are able to overcome and be brought safely home (Rom.7:18-19, 8:26-39). 

However, God’s people can never boast that He loves them “just the way they are,” for in deep humility and repentance they must admit that God loves them DESPITE who they are.  They’re sinners who’ve had the price of their redemption paid in full by Jesus’ blood.  And it was an actual payment, not a hypothetical one that’s only applied if we “name it and claim it.” We can’t push Jesus aside, seat ourselves on Gods throne and legalistically “plead the blood” as a formula for protection or deliverance.  In fact, Scripture contains no record of phrases like these ever being used by the apostles, prophets or any other believer, because they’re borderline blasphemy.  

Jesus pleads His blood for the sheep (Jn10:15) and even said, “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given Me; for they are Thine” (Jn.17:9).  His prayers for His people cannot fail and He keeps their faith from failing (Luke 22:32).  Jesus’ blood covers ALL the sins of those He died for (past, present and future), including the sin of unbelief.  So that those God has ordained to eternal life are enabled to believe through grace (Acts 13:48, 18:27).  All glory goes to God the Father Who arranged salvation, God the Son Who accomplished it, and God the Holy Spirit Who applies it!!   

So remember friend, God doesn’t begin the work of salvation and expect us to finish it.  The song Amazing Grace doesn’t say, “I’ve kept from losing my salvation thus far,” but it does say, “Twas grace that bro’t me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” And if you truly want to sing it in sincerity, you must come “unto Him that is able to keep you from falling”——-for God saves to the uttermost (Jude 24, 25)!!

Sis Lee Anne—–readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

freewill vs. Sovereignty of God

How Does God Save?

How does God save?  Many think He saves by expecting us to perfectly fulfill His laws and commandments.  Then some think He saves by expecting us to follow the pattern Jesus set forth.  But according to His word He saves by His blood and His blood is not laws, commandments, or patterns, but a redeeming price.  We can contribute nothing to it, or else we could boast. God saves by GIVING to us, not by expecting from us. And once God gives, then He can expect us to be able to obey, for it’s His power that works in us (Luke 12:48, Phil.2:13). 

Yet, if we were expected to fulfill all of God’s commands perfectly before we could be saved, then we’d all be doomed.  Can any honest person claim to be able to fulfill God’s ultimate command to be perfect (Matt.5:48)?  Absolutely not!!  James 2:10 makes it clear that we blew that possibility the first time we ever sinned.  But what is impossible for man, is not impossible with God (Mark 10:27).  Although the Bible clearly presents our responsibility to fulfill all of God’s commands, it also clearly shows our inability to do so, until God intervenes (e.g. Ezek.18; 36:22, 26, 27, Rom.8:7, 1Cor.2:14).  For only God can “make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ” (Heb.13:20-21).

 “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  Because His divine power has GIVEN His people all they need for life and godliness, which would include faith and repentance (2Pet.1:3).  For He saves “not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was GIVEN us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2Tim.1:9).  And “it’s GIVEN on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but to suffer for His sake (Phil.1:29).  So all glory goes to Jesus who came as “God manifest in the flesh” to reconcile His people to Himself, from every tongue, tribe and nation throughout the world (2Cor.5:19, 1Tim.3:16, Rev.5:9).

God saves by GIVING a Savior to His people and by GIVING His people to the Savior.  In John 6:37 Jesus says, “All that the Father GIVETH Me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” For they are “justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Rom.3:24, Eph.1:7).

All glory be to God the Father who purposed salvation, God the Son who purchased it and God the Holy Spirit who applies it!!  Praise be to God who has been so merciful, kind and loving to give His grace so freely to those who don’t deserve it, those who have no spiritual strength of their own.  “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6)……….  God saves bad people.

Are you a bad person friend?  Then you’re qualified for a Savior.  And you need one, for you cannot even dare to come to such a holy and righteous God without the Savior whose blood covers all sin, so that you can be “accepted in the Beloved.”  For God never rejects those who repent and believe through the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ (Eph.1:19-20).

So if you’re at the end of your rope because you realize you can never (in your own power) do enough to be acceptable to such a holy God, then I have Good News for you friend.  His grace is enough.  Jesus has already done the redeeming work and He said “it is finished.”  And He’s saying to you now, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will GIVE you rest” (Matt.11:28).                                                                                                                                                                                     Sis. Lee Anne—–readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

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Jesus’ Birth

During the holiday season, I can’t help but be moved by thoughts of Jesus’ birth.  Not because it was the “reason for the season” or a “birthday” in the worldly sense, but because it was when the long awaited promise of the new covenant of grace was presented as blessed Bread from Heaven.  Just think of the theological significance of God placing baby Jesus in a feeding trough within the little town of Bethlehem, which meant “House of Bread” in Hebrew.

Yet, there are two sides to God’s divine providence. First, Jesus is living bread to those who upon realizing their starving sin sickness, begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness (John 6:51).  Yet, He says those who are whole don’t need a physician, only the sick, and that He doesn’t call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matt.9: 12, 13).  He also said to go and learn what this means, which may seem to be a no-brainer for believers, but the self-righteous who haven’t had their understanding opened by God to realize the extent of their fallen condition, can’t even begin to grasp this truth. 

The truth is that Jesus becomes a sword to the wicked, but food to the weary who mourn over their sin against God.  In Matt. 10:34-36 Jesus says, “think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword”……”And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”  Wow, not something we’d like to think about around the holidays, with all the family gatherings!  Yet, Jesus makes it clear that He only brings peace to those who are His, and those who aren’t will be turned against us.  Jesus does the dividing, for we can only be united by the true gospel, not by false religion.  And all of this is a revelation so spectacular that even angels desire to look into it (1Pet.1:12, 13, Gal.1:6-8).

So while appearing to common field shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth, rather than “high society,” the heavenly angels gave all “Glory to God in the Highest!” Far beyond a commercialized celebration that exalts the basic “goodness” of man.  And rather than prompting people to “be good” for “goodness sake,” they brought tidings of great joy and peace to God’s fallen (not so good) people, from every tongue, tribe and nation, by revealing GOD’S GOOD will toward all the recipients of His mercy. 

How great is our God to regard the weak and lowly spiritual state of His people by granting them what He commands.  For what God requires, Christ provided thru His virgin birth, virtuous life, vicarious death, victorious resurrection and vigilant intercession!  Praise be to God who is worthy of all honor and year-round celebration of the highest caliber! Words fail me to express the magnitude of God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ.  His free gift far exceeds all the material gifts in the world.

So dear friend, apart from this gracious work of God, you can never know the power and joy of the true gospel and the true meaning of peace (Eph.2:14-17).  And no amount of “kumbaya” singing, Christmas caroling, shopping, feasting, decorating, giving, getting, church attending, candle lighting or card sending will ever make up for it in all eternity.  Therefore, by the grace of God, along with the Lord Jesus Christ, thru the Holy Spirit, I plead with you to lay down any work-righteous, superstitious, religious idols and seek first the kingdom of God and His peace, which are NOT of this world (John 14:27, 16:33, 18:36).

Sis Lee Anne —-Readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

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God’s Sovereignty

Many think that if they’re seeking what only God can provide, they must be seeking God. But Jesus told a multitude that they were only seeking Him for His earthly benefits, not for the heavenly miracles that proved His Deity.  In other words, they weren’t really seeking God. And Jesus explained why by saying, “No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” (John 6:26, 44, 66).

 Jesus’ words were so offensive, many walked away.  Because like today, many admit God is sovereign over nations and temporal life, but they can’t handle the fact that God is sovereign over all things, including eternal life.  They’d rather make up a god they’re more comfortable with, because “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” which is why “it’s not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jer.10:23, 17:9).

So why does God command us to seek Him and proclaim the gospel? Since only God changes hearts and draws sinners to Jesus to be saved, why should we take action at all?  Obviously, the answer is simple. He commands us to.  For He already knows that although some won’t obey in spirit and truth, some will.  Just as God commanded light to shine out of darkness (Gen.1), everything didn’t become light, but what God ordained to be light, obeyed His command. That’s why there’s a universal call of the gospel but not a universal redemption, “for many be called, but few chosen” (Matt.20:16, Acts 13:48).

Although fallen humanity has the “light of conscience” and the “light of creation” to prompt them to an outward performance of God’s commands, they can’t seek Jesus from a pure heart unless God commands the “light of the gospel” to shine into their hearts.  A mere outward response isn’t the deciding factor, God is. In fact, God’s sovereignty in salvation is so obvious that Jesus recaps this point in John 6:65 by saying “No man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of the Father.”

Yet many are believing what’s called “decisional regeneration,” where trust is placed in a “decision for Christ” rather than Holy Spirit regeneration, where the Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we’re His (Tit.3:5, Rom.8:16). For believers “have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us” (2Cor.4:3-7), because those who receive God’s free gift aren’t those with more “willpower” but those whom God has given the power to become His (John 1:12, 13).  “For it is not of man who wills or runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Rom.9:16). 

“For who maketh thee to differ from another” (1Cor.4:7)? Are Christians different because they’re better than others?  Are they able to receive, repent, believe and obey the gospel due to having more common grace of character, conviction, morality, or ability to choose the things of God? Absolutely not! Or else they wouldn’t need a Savior and could do without God’s sovereign saving grace.

So dear friend, although many turn away from such a sovereign God, you don’t have to become a statistic. And you don’t have to try to be better than others.  Just cry out to God for mercy, confessing your desperate need of a Savior.  He never turns away those who are truly brokenhearted over sin (Ps.51:17), for He sent Jesus to seek and save an endless multitude of people who are poor in spirit.  So be encouraged, no one is closer to God’s free grace than when they finally realize the poverty of their own sinfulness and powerlessness compared to God’s sovereign, majestic holiness.

Sis Lee Anne—-Readers with questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

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A New Heart and a New Spirit

Theological Thoughts

     Just recently Ezekiel 18 was brought to my attention by a loved one who felt these verses proved that we should be able to conjure up faith, repentance and obedience to God in our own power.  Of course these verses came as no surprise, since I too had struggled with them and many others, most of my life.  Coming from a legalistic background, I would read all the do’s and don’ts in God’s word and despair of ever being able to live up to them all.  It wasn’t until God opened my blind eyes that I could finally understand that He actually wanted me to despair of ever being able to live up to His standards, so that confidence in my own self-sufficiency would be shattered and so I could finally realize my desperate need for a Savior (2Cor.3:5). 

 

     Ezek.18 is actually a perfect example of how God deals with His people.  He commands them to do the impossible.  In verses 30-31 He commands His people to “turn themselves” and make themselves a new heart and a new spirit.  He tells them to do what He already knew they could never do apart from His divine intervention.  Even in Ezek. 3:7 God tells His prophet from the very start that these people wouldn’t listen, for they were hard-hearted.  So why did God even bother telling them to do what He already knew they couldn’t? 

 

     By reading the whole book of Ezekiel in context, the answer becomes obvious.  He did this so they would realize they didn’t have the power to do the very things that would save them.  And when they accused God of being unfair, He revealed even more of His glory by making it clear that He could destroy them all and still be just, because like all of us, they deserved hell for sinning against their holy Creator (Ezek.18:25,29).  “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).

 

       But in Ezek.36:22 we see that God is full of mercy and grace and He shows us that He can change the most repulsive sinner in order to reveal His glory.  Again in vs.26 and 27 God tells them He is the One who gives a new heart and a new spirit.  Even as early as Ezek.11:19-20, God tells them they will become His people only because He Himself will put a new heart and a new spirit in them and that only then would they have the power to obey His commands.  For no one has the natural power within themselves to do this, because we can only “believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ (Eph.1:19, 20). 

 

     The book of Ezekiel is just another beautiful reminder of how God’s mighty power can triumph over our sin nature.  Just as Jesus commanded Lazarus’ dead body to come forth, He still commands sinners who are dead in their trespasses to do the impossible, to repent and believe the gospel.  And just as Jesus gave Lazarus the power to come, He still gives His people the same power to come today.

 

     So friend, that which is impossible for you, is not impossible with God.  Come to Him today and confess your helplessness and place your trust in Him alone (not in yourself) to give you the new heart and new spirit that you so desperately need to be saved.  And keep coming to Him.  Pray, read God’s word, worship and commune with God’s people until you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has forever changed you and that you are forever His.    

 Lee Anne  

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Are You Sitting on a High Horse?

Scan0025 Theological Thoughts

     While attending summer revivals with my family, I’ve pondered some theological thoughts that have inspired me to write about this painting I’ve finished and titled “Are You Sitting on a High Horse?” By painting a depiction of the Lamb of God in the background I wanted to portray how many of us, even as Christians have the tendency to sit on the “high horse” of freewill with its prideful appearance of natural ability and strength, while God’s sovereign free grace gets placed in the background of our lives.  One way this happens is when we refer to our salvation in first person (e.g. I went to the altar, I said this prayer, I made a decision for Christ, I invited Jesus into my heart, I got baptized, I did this or that …….THEN God saved me) rather than second person (e.g. God first loved me, God’s word convinced me I was a sinner in need of a Saviour, God changed my heart and granted me the grace to repent, believe and obey the gospel, God secured my salvation in Jesus……BEFORE I could’ve had anything to do with it). 

     The former makes God’s grace sound cheap, as if it’s only effective if we do something first, or that it only enables us to attain our own salvation. Yet the latter, “praises the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6) by emphasizing the miracle of what Jesus already attained by His death, burial and resurrection to secure the eternal plan of redemption by which God has determined to save, through Christ, sinners whom He has chosen and how He freely bestows the grace necessary for them to respond in faith and repentance. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Eph.2:8).

    Freewill can only act in harmony with its nature (Rom.8:7-9). For example, in the natural scheme of things, we can choose to either walk or run but we can’t choose to flap our wings and fly. Our nature prevents us from doing so. Likewise, freewill is limited by our fallen nature. Before the Fall, mankind had freewill to either obey or disobey God. But now, the will is only “free” in the sense that it still has the natural ability to disobey God and of trying to attain salvation thru works (Rom.10:3). So by nature, our will isn’t truly free to obey the gospel until God first intervenes with free grace to enable us to become partakers of the divine nature (2Pet.1:4). “For it is God who works in you to will and to do” (Phil.2:13).

    So friend, pray God will grant you free grace, so you’ll be able to truly repent, believe and obey the gospel. For your natural inability to repent enough, believe enough or be good enough is no barrier to His ability to change all that and save you from hell. His grace is enough. And though God resists the proud, He gives grace to the humble and poor in spirit, (1Pet.5:5) for He often refines them in the furnace of affliction to remind them they can never earn it (Isaiah 48:9-11). God in His mercy has already provided the means of salvation in Jesus’ blood atonement and He supplies the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to apply the merits of that sacrifice, while regenerating the dead spirit that was held captive by sin.    

  God’s free grace also helps overcome the external compulsion to sin, which still makes our position one of major accountability. At the same time, believers have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ who intercedes for us in our weaknesses and saves us to the uttermost (Heb.7:25, 12:2). He is the author and finisher of our faith, (Phil.1:6) not by violating our will, but by changing our heart so that our will is free to obey Him in spirit and in truth rather than legalistic bondage.  Because being seated in heavenly places by God’s free grace is far better any day, than being seated on the high horse of freewill by our own works.  For “The horse is prepared against the day of battle; but safety is of the Lord” (Prov. 21:31).

Sis Lee Anne —–Readers w/ questions or comments are free to contact me at gospel4life@live.com

 

freewill vs. Sovereignty of God

Freewill—the ability to reject God VS. Freegrace the ability to choose God

 Many today love to harp on human freewill and their ability to choose. We see this in the Garden of Eden scenario where God actually left Adam and Eve to their own freewill choice, but of course with the intention to show them their desperate need for Him. For freewill always has the same devastating consequences of falling for Satans lie that we can be our own god and make our own decisions. But in order to allow mankind to realize the ultimate sickness of sin, God allowed Adam and Eve to actually fall into a state of sin as a result of their own freewill. From the beginning, the garden scenario showed us the futility of freewill and the devastating consequences thereof. It is still prevalent today and manifesting in many different ways. In fact, we see it defining every cult and false religion that exists, for they all exalt man and his works over God and His sovereignty. We also see freewill raising it’s ugly head in the pro-choice movement, which gives the ability to murder unborn babies. We see it in all who pervert, twist and downright deny the authority of Scripture. Why? Because the logical outcome of exalting man’s freewill always leads to the belief that since the Bible was written thru fallible free willed men then the Word must be fallible also. In this they directly deny the biblical doctrine of providence, where God directly intervenes and orchestrates all things for His glory. For this humbling truth is too deep for those who want complete control of their own destinies. This is why freewill of man always leads to Deism, which is the heretical belief that God is just a passive onlooker with His hands tied because He supposedly lost control of everything He made due to man’s disobedience, putting man in the drivers seat. However, according the God’s Word, we have never had control of our destiny thru our works, any more than we have ever had a part in the work of Calvary. It has always been God’s work from beginning (Alpha) to the end (Omega). For Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb). It is a fearful thing to exalt the freewill of man, for it can only be exercised in accordance with the flesh. Freegrace however, can only be exercised in accordance with God’s sovereign purpose to save. For if we were left to our own freewill, we would all reject God, but He loves His own so much that He overrides our propensity to reject Him. Rom. 6, declares that the flesh is enmity against God, for it cannot receive the things of God. God is the only one who gives the ability to worship Him in Spirit, not in flesh. For even all of our best works are nothing but filthy rags in His sight. There is an eternal plan of redemption by which God has determined to save, through Christ, certain persons whom He has chosen and He freely bestows the grace necessary for them to respond in faith and repentance, not the other way around. This comforts and blesses those who are poor in spirit, for if it was left up to us, we would never effect the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. To think otherwise would be equivalent to believing we can cause ourselves to be born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), when Jesus clearly said it is impossible for us, for only God can make this possible (John 3:3).  But know this dear friend—- that we do indeed have “freewill” after we are saved, for only then is our will freed up to choose obedience to God. And it is He who gives us the grace (ability) to overcome any external compulsion to sin, which paradoxically still makes our position one of terrible personal accountability for our actions. However, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ who interceeds for us and saves us to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). For God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins when we confess our desperate need for Him, because He will not break His blood covenant with those whom He has sealed by it, those whom Christ was a substitute for. God is not a pitiful groveler who begs for our consent, He gets it——and praise His holy name for revealing this to all His sheep who realize their complete inability to believe enough, repent enough or be thankful enough. For He has “helped our unbelief” by not leaving us to believe the lie that we could ever possibly conjure up any of His requirements on our own, for then we would be the most pitiful creatures in existence.  Thankfully we have a God who doesn’t leave or forsake us to our own freewill. And praise God that He has appointed the means of our salvation in the blood of Calvary and given the Spirit to apply the merits of that sacrifice, while quickening our dead spirit that was held captive by sin. For He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18) and it is His purpose, His power and His glory to do so! and that’s why I glory in His freegrace!!